Escape Academy's base game was one of the unexpected gems I originally found in the Steam Next Fest earlier this year, and I went on to thoroughly love the full game when it was released in July. Unfortunately, like all games, it did come to an end and I was left wanting more, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when Escape Academy's first DLC was announced: Escape from Anti-Escape Island.
Taking place after the game's main story, Escape from Anti-Escape Island follows your character, along with the Principal, Jeb, and Gillian as you head off to a tropical vacation as thanks for a job well done in the main game. Unfortunately, the plane gets shot down and crashes and you and Jeb are stranded on an oddly remote island, separated from Gillian and the Headmaster before being captured by Anti-Escape Scientists. Your goal? To escape, of course. The level of the story is about on par with that of the main game, and the DLC also focuses much more on puzzles and advancing the plot by moving from place to place more than any actual plot development or characters.
Unfortunately, Escape from Anti-Escape Island just doesn't hold up to the wonderful standards set by Escape Academy. Sure, it's a fun story and there are plenty of puzzles, but the quality of the puzzles isn't as good. Several puzzles contained leaps of logic that weren't quite obvious, such as when I was playing through and a minesweeper puzzle at the very end was hampered by straight-up errors in what numbers were shown on the tiles as opposed to what was actually on the board. Like in Escape Academy, the puzzles are varying and unpredictable, which makes for a lot of fun when they're executed well. However, that didn't occur as consistently.
Almost all of the puzzles were also on a time crunch, and while the timer aspect was present in Escape Academy, I never felt rushed for time or like what was being asked was unreasonable, even if it did come down to the wire. In Escape from Anti-Escape Island, time limits seemed stretched too tightly, and I found myself stuck and using hints more often than in the base game. On the one hand, the DLC takes place after the main story and is supposed to be more difficult, but on the other hand, there's a fine line between difficult and frustrating.
One particularly annoying example occurs early on in the game when you're trying to escape from the plane. There are letters written on window shades and a cipher that you need to put them through, but it's the order that you untangle them in as well as what, exactly, you put through the cipher that's unclear. While the puzzle itself is straightforward once you figure out what to do, there is a lot of time that's wasted in getting there and trying to apply the cipher to various combinations of letters. The whole thing is overcomplicated and poorly designed, in contrast to the original puzzles that, while difficult and not straightforward, had far fewer false starts. The bar stool puzzle in the juice bar section of the DLC functions similarly, where it's easy to understand once you figure out where the answer is, but the path to get there is unintuitive at best.
Escape Academy's first DLC, Escape from Anti-Escape Island, isn't a total wash. Some of the puzzles are fun and the story certainly is. However, the logical holes in some puzzles and the poor design of others ensure that the DLC falls far short of the main game. If you're a huge fan of the original, you'll probably have fun with the DLC, but don't expect the same level of puzzles and gameplay.
TechRaptor reviewed Escape Academy: Escape from Anti-Escape Island on Xbox Series S with a copy [provided by the publisher/provided by the developer.] It is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox One.
- Same Fun Atmosphere And Characters
- Nice Tropical Island Setting
- Illogical and Poorly Designed Puzzles
- Frustrating Time Limits